A Beautifully Colored Sakiori Sodenashi: Rag Woven Work Vest
ca. mid twentieth century
27" x 15 1/4", 68.5 cm x 38.5 cm
This beautifully colored and tightly woven garment is hand made from a rag weft--the technique of rag weaving in Japan being referred to as sakiori. Sakiori is a compound word derived from the verbs to tear and to weave, which makes sense since the rag yarn used to weave this garment was strategically torn in narrow strips from recycled cottons.
This vest is sometimes called sodenashi, which means a garment without sleeves--and as can be seen, it is thickly woven with rag yarn in a beautiful, tight spectrum of blues and ivories with subtle passages of a dull red color.
There are noteworthy and desirable details embedded in this folk garment from old Japan.
One is its predominately blue color, which is always something to watch for in sakiori. And that this sakiori cloth was woven on a hemp warp is another important detail to note: in the early days of sakiori weaving, around the mid to late 18th century, hemp or bast warps were used, the reason being that there was no cotton yarn available to the peasants who were weaving with rags. To this day, hemp or bast warps are a desirable detail in sakiori weaving for the sake of tradition, and also because it could indicate that the garment is rural.
Vests like this were good padding when carrying burden or loads, and they also provided a freedom of movement for the arms. You can see by the tabs connecting the front to back areas that this was a garment that was supposed to allow movement of the body.
As well, have a look at the rag woven gusset that bridges the two sides of the sodenashi at its top: notice, too, the white cotton stitching up the spine of the garment: just lovely.
This is an exceptionally good looking thing and certainly its a vivid reminder of life in old Japan.